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What If I Can't Keep My New Baby?

Updated on November 11, 2018
DzyMsLizzy profile image

Peace, harmony, and lifelong learning are Liz's passions. She's outspoken on education and childhood and is an activist in local politics.

Hearing about the abandonment of a newborn is so sad.  There are other options.
Hearing about the abandonment of a newborn is so sad. There are other options. | Source

The Dilemma of an Unwanted Pregnancy

Without going into any of the heated politics on both sides of this issue, the fact remains that unintended pregnancies do happen.

If the mother, for whatever reason (economic hardship; being underage; health concerns; housing issues; etc.), is unable or unwilling to keep and raise her child, there must be some resource in place to assist her in offering a safe alternative.

The traditional adoption route is always available, but for mothers who did not give birth in a hospital setting, they may be unaware of this option.

Orphanages

Once a staple of the child welfare scene, these institutions have largely faded from existence. It was a sad place for a child to be; there was often inadequate staffing, and the children were not always well treated.

Dickens' showcases this failing in his famous work, "Oliver Twist," from which the musical production "Oliver!" was adapted. This was the era when orphanages and workhouses for the poor were at their peak, and while there may have been some degree of dramatic exaggeration on the part of the author, the point made is valid.

No parent really wanted their children to end up in such a place. Back in those "bad old days," many residents were, indeed, orphans; their parents having succumbed to one or another terrible disease then common.

Other parents, faced with unemployment and no resources reluctantly sent their children to orphanages because they could no longer care for them. It was sad all around.

This photo of the old Hebrew Orphanage is a good representation of these sad buildings that were more like warehouses or prisons than homes.
This photo of the old Hebrew Orphanage is a good representation of these sad buildings that were more like warehouses or prisons than homes. | Source

The Orphan Train

In 1853, the Children's Aid Society was formed by Charles Loring Brace. It endeavored to place abandoned, orphaned and unwanted children in new homes. This was a cooperative effort by Brace's institution, along with the Children's Village project, founded by 24 philanthropists, and also New York State's Foundling Hospital.

Many of the children were sent to the expanding West on trains to be placed with families eager to adopt. Brace saw this as a solution to the sad situation of children in orphanages or workhouses.

Eventually, this bold experiment led to today's system of foster care homes.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Flyer for the orphan train, soliciting adoptive familiesThe Orphan Train Museum in Concordia, KS
Flyer for the orphan train, soliciting adoptive families
Flyer for the orphan train, soliciting adoptive families | Source
The Orphan Train Museum in Concordia, KS
The Orphan Train Museum in Concordia, KS | Source

Safe Surrender

Today, many states have laws allowing a parent to safely, and in most cases, anonymously, surrender a newborn to a participating site for placement with an adoption agency.

In California, where I live, for example, this must be done within 3 days following the birth, and parents have up to 14 days to change their minds and regain custody.

Similar laws are in effect in many states, all with their own variations.

Generally, a "safe surrender" site will be either a hospital or a fire station, as both places have medically trained personnel on duty 24 hours a day.

This is a viable option for those who, for whatever reason, chose not go to a hospital to give birth. The child is given a coded anklet with no names attached, and the infant is given over to the Child Protective Services, where it will be placed in temporary care until the reclaiming period has ended. At that point, the baby can enter the adoption system.

The ACLU has a well-thought-out set of guidelines that should be considered for states considering safe surrender laws.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Hospitals are one safe surrender optionFire stations are another designated site for safe surrender of newbornsFire/Rescue services have medically trained staff able to support newborns surrendered by their birth parent
Hospitals are one safe surrender option
Hospitals are one safe surrender option | Source
Fire stations are another designated site for safe surrender of newborns
Fire stations are another designated site for safe surrender of newborns | Source
Fire/Rescue services have medically trained staff able to support newborns surrendered by their birth parent
Fire/Rescue services have medically trained staff able to support newborns surrendered by their birth parent | Source

Pass the Word

There are still too many items in the news about babies being found abandoned in unsafe places.

If you know someone who is pregnant, has chosen to carry and deliver the baby, but will not be able to care for the infant, please inform them of these safe options.

If this article can save even one or two babies from a sad fate, I will feel rewarded.

© 2018 Liz Elias

Comments

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  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    9 months ago from Oakley, CA

    Agreed, Dianna,

    But there are often circumstances which make it impossible; such as a teenaged mom who is not really preppared or capable of providing a home; a family who refuses to help raise said child; abject poverty--essentially living on the streets.

    It is those types of cases which this article addresses. Hopefully, somone in a position to help will see their way through to compassion, instead of rejection of a mother so young.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    9 months ago

    Too many babies out there being given up for adoption today. It does take a lot to give up a child but the mother should consider keeping her baby if possible.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    10 months ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, Peg!

    Thank you so much for adding this information. Your mom must be a very special person; it takes a certain kind of strength to deal with such sad situations.

    It is good to know that there are places of recourse such as you describe in place, as opposed to the 'bad old days.'

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 

    10 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

    Thanks for bringing awareness to this sad situation of abandonment of babies. For over 15 years, my Mom worked at the Edna Gladney Home (now Edna Gladney Center) where she cared for newborn babies as a Nurse Assistant. They have a program where pregnant women can work with the home to choose adoptive parents who pay established fees for prospective adoptive home study, legal and adoptive costs including the birth expenses. The home has been in business since 1887. Mom spoke of children who later returned with their adoptive parents to visit the caregivers. :)

    I'm not familiar with other places but this one is in Fort Worth Texas. There was a movie, called Blossoms in the Dust (1941), that highlighted the accomplishments of Edna Gladney.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    10 months ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello Ramona; thank you for sharing your experience. There is no one right answer or 'one size fits all' solution for everyone. You were lucky to have the support of family. Many young women in your situation do not, and they do what they must in order to survive. If that means offering the child to a family that can give it a better chance than she could, I say more power to her. It certainly beats wrapping the child in a blanket and plastic bag and tossing it into the nearest dumpster--which tragic event has happened more than you may realize.

    Hello, Doris;

    It's true, there are flaws in the foster care system, and there are 'homes' or 'orphanages' that do a good job. You probably refer to an era around the late 1940s or 1950s; things were better then than in the 1800s, which is the period I referenced, and to which I made the comparison.

    Again, no one solution is right for every person: it is a uniquely private and personal decision. Thanks much for your thoughts.

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James MizBejabbers 

    10 months ago from Beautiful South

    Adoption by parents who really want to raise an infant as their own child is a very good thing. However, I'm not too sure that our foster care system is much, if any, better than the orphanage. But then I had only one example to go by. As a small child I used to sit as my grandmother's dinner table and look at the twinkling lights on the hill just above their farm. One evening she explained to me that it was the "Masonic Home", a place where orphaned boys lived. Later I went to school with some of these boys and never knew it at the time. Today I've heard a few of them laud the treatment and care they got at this home and called some of the caregivers by name. It was so different from the children being passed around in foster homes.

    On the other hand, I heard one father whose foster child got into trouble for breaking into, and stealing from, a car on a used car lot explain to juvenile authorities that the boy "didn't do anything wrong because the car didn't belong to anybody." The authorities explained to him that the owner of the used car lot owned the car and it was still stealing. He just couldn't understand that. Not a very good influence on an 8-year-old boy, was it?

    My conclusion is that when children are given up for adoption, some of them luck out and get good parents, and some don't. I do agree with you that any pregnant woman should know her options.

  • profile image

    Ramona Cibrian 

    10 months ago

    I understand there's a lot of young women out there that have babies especially the newborns when they come into this world I was at that predicament once in my lifetime I was pregnant at age 15 I had to help of my aunt that recently passed away last year she helped me the most and not getting an abortion or giving up my baby she help me raise my son until it was time for me to have others and to learn how to be a mother to the young parents out there even the older parents don't give up your baby I know it's going to be hard but there is a time not when you look into these little eyes there's going to always be a thank you God is always there by your side no matter what there is help out there to help you raise your child instead of giving up your child you'll carry this newborn in your tummy 9 to 10 months I believe don't give up keep on going and being a parent God bless

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